“The Story of a Man Who Murdered Himself and Lived to Regret It!!!”
One of the problems of movies being in public domain is that the physical condition of the film tends to fall into poor disarray. If you want to watch a copy of the film odds are the version you are watching is going to look like crap. Not always but more often than not.
Lots of great film noir have fallen into public domain for a variety of reasons and one of them is this 1948 film Hollow Triumph which was re-released as The Scar.
Paul Henreid stars as John Muller, a man recently released from prison and already planning a robbery. He puts together a crew and robs an illegal casino. The casino is run by gangster Rocky Stansyck (Thomas Browne Henry) who quickly finds out who planned the robbery and starts killing all involved. Muller runs for it. He meets up with his brother who tries and gets him a legitimate job but Muller can’t stand it and takes off.
A chance encounter leads Muller to discover that psychoanalyst Dr. Bartok looks exactly like him, except Bartok has a scar on his cheek. Muller decides to kill Bartok and takes his place. He even tries to match the scar but messes up and puts the scar on the wrong cheek (photos and a mirror reversed it). Amazingly enough nobody really notices that the scar is suddenly on the wrong side. Bartok’s secretary Joan Bennett discovers the ruse but doesn’t seem to care. But soon Muller discovers that Bartok had his own problems.
This little B-movie film noir is pretty good. The story is nice and dark and bleak. Paul Henreid had played handsome leading men for a chunk of his career (most famously in Casablanca and Now, Voyager) but in his later career here he was starting to do more gritty roles. He did several film noir movies before he was blacklisted during the red scare. He would later become a prolific TV director. Here Henreid plays a ruthless criminal who will do anything to get away.
Like most film noirs the ending is dark but that’s part of the fun with these movies. After getting several mediocre DVD/Blu-ray releases over the years Kino is finally releasing a very nice copy of the film on Blu-ray. They are releasing under The Scar title instead of Hollow Triumph but the movie has never looked better.